Column: Defend democracy with the Democrats
It’s been two weeks since the election, but the residual waves of rage and sorrow still crash and break on the rocky shores of the American psyche. If the pre-election coverage was insufferable, then the postmortems and finger-pointing are downright torturous. The Democratic Party has taken an incredible amount of flak, both in the opinions columns of major newspapers and in the angry cries of young adults across this campus and others.
As intoxicating as it is to have the moral high ground over our reason-averse president-elect, as cathartic as it may be to shout “not my president” in a crowd of hundreds, the road ahead is long and hard and will not be brightened by token activism and righteous anger alone.
To be fair, not everything that has happened in the last two weeks can accurately be described as token activism. Record donations have poured into the coffers of a number of worthy organizations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, the latter reporting tens of thousands of gifts given in Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s name.
This is obviously nothing to sneeze at, but these kinds of things are only a few steps up from indignant multi-paragraph Facebook posts. Public interest will wane. It’s logistically impossible to be an activist for four full years.
Let us not forget that one of the most noxious people to ever gain national prominence won the presidency because, even faced with that man’s vile worldview on full display, many people could not or would not bring themselves to vote.
Today’s twin pillars of rage and sorrow have taken the place of the hope and change that President Barack Obama, then Sen. Bernie Sanders, instilled in their faithful.
Our president-elect weaseled his way into the White House because he pandered to the millions for whom hope and change have long since seemed like distant ideals. His supporters fought like hell to do what they thought amounted to taking their country back.
So, that is what we must do now. Hope, compassion and devotion are ideas both mighty and worthy, but they mean nothing by themselves.
Today, hope and change need a riot squad, and however diminished and compromised it currently is, the Democratic Party still stands.
It has always been the party of the people, to various degrees, since the New Deal realignment.
To paraphrase Public Enemy: Ronald Reagan was a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me.
Although he will not caucus with them, Sen. Sanders has drawn many Democrats to his cause, in part or in full—including Arizona’s own Rep. Raul Grijalva.
Chuck Schumer, a Democratic senator in New York soon to be one of the most powerful Democrats in the country, is, to put it gently, not the most beloved figure on the progressive left. But he has promised to fight the president-elect “tooth-and-nail” to prevent any attempts to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, which was geared to regulate Wall Street during the Obama Administration.
So hold him and other Democrats accountable. While many Republicans poised to join the Trump Administration fall somewhere between lunacy and insanity, the Democrats are a different story.
They include Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who served the nation as well as her home state constituents by raining hell on the rampant chicanery of Wells Fargo.
They include Arizona’s own Rep. Ruben Gallego, who represents the 7th District; who insisted that House Democrats put “every effort” into stopping the president-elect.
They are an imperfect and motley bunch, sometimes compromised and never infallible. But for those who hope to see the New Deal, the Great Society and Obamacare survive the next four years, they are your skirmish line.
This country’s two-party system has survived veritable eons of scrutiny, and it will survive your indignation today.
Supporting a party in 2016 fundamentally means the same as it ever has: aligning yourself with one of two great and powerful national organizations.
In 1960, for example, the gulf was not that wide and the choice not so impactful.
In 2016, the gulf is vast and the choice immeasurably meaningful.
One of these choices is an endorsement of the lone outpost defending progress past, present and future.
The other choice is less a party than a cyst, oozing pus as it threatens to burst from the outward pressure exerted by the cabal of racist-, fascist- and demagogue-enabling do-nothing blowhards that call it home.
If you have not chosen already, do so now, and go to the wall for your party.
Follow Raad Zaghloul on Twitter.